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Afro-Catalans: From emigration to interculturality and metissage (Black culture in Catalonia)

Carlos A. Rabasso

In this paper, we are going to study the presence of black culture in Catalonia from its origins with the slave trade until nowadays in the context of a globalised society where metissage results from the constant evolution of the world. We will look into the most significant moments by dealing with different cultural events such as African-American jazz or Caribbean and Cuban music like rumba and salsa.

The creation of the Hot Jazz Club of Barcelona, the Jazz Cava of Terrasa, current meeting place for many jazz musicians, the Taller de Musics and the activities of clubs like la Cova del Drac or the Jamboree, will constitute a starting point in order to analyze the importance of black cultures in Catalonia. We will also define their different means of cultural representation by looking into their associations from a cultural and recreational point of view.

In the Catalan cultural landscape, musicians like the Cuban singer, Lucrecia, the American jazz musician Lou Benett or sports figures like Samuel Eto’o have been a kind of example or model for black minorities and they have symbolically encouraged their fellow community members to be proud of their different cultural identities and to share them without fearing racism or marginalization. Specific questions related to ethnic products, food, craftwork or cultural habits will also be part of our research project as they will enable us to examine the customs and mores as well as the emotions of a diaspora whose African roots extend from the Mediterranean sea to the Caribbean islands through religious practices and common creeds.

Even though jazz music is the starting point of our research, we will not only mention first or second generation African minorities but we will also tackle the role of the afro-caribbean community in the Catalan culture, a culture characterized by bilingualism (Catalan and Castillan are official languages) and metissage, in a land where the creation of new intercultural spaces and acceptance of third cultures are a reality.

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